THE CRACKED POT
A Teaching Story
Let me tell you one of my favourite teaching stories.
This one is for parents, teachers, mentors… especially those who want to achieve their unfulfilled, unrealised and unrealistic ambitions vicariously through their children and protégés and hence put a lot of pressure and drive the poor kids, overwhelm them with high expectations…and everyone wants their kids to stand first (winner takes all and loser is left standing small philosophy).
This story is also for those perfectionists, at the workplace and at home, who expect everyone to be perfect like themselves and this quest for perfection makes everyone’s life hell…
A water bearer had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot always arrived only half full.
For two years this went on daily, with the water bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, fulfilled in the design for which it was made.
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was unable to accomplish what it had been made to do.
After two years of enduring this bitter shame, the contrite cracked pot spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream, “I am ashamed of myself and I apologize to you.”
“Why are you feeling so guilty, so penitent, so repentant …?” the water bearer asked the sad cracked pot, “Tell me, what are you so ashamed of…?”
“I feel sorry that for these past two years I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do extra work and you don't get full value from your efforts,” the pot said full of remorse.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and was consoled somewhat.
But at the end of the trail, the cracked pot still felt remorse, shame and a feeling of guilt because it had leaked out half its water load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the cracked pot, “Did you not notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, and not on the other pot's side…? That is because I have always known about your flaw and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we've walked back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty, these lovely flowers, to grace his house.”
Moral of the Story:
There are no winners and there are no losers – everyone is a winner in his or her own way. Each of us has our own unique flaws. We are all cracked pots. But it is the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what and who they are, and look for the good in them – most importantly, we must look for the winner within us, maybe hiding deep inside our own selves.
There is one more thing I want to say.
Most of us seem too self-conscious about our weaknesses and spend too much energy and resources in the process of trying to correct our imperfections and hence neglect our strengths.
Why not forget our weaknesses, our imperfections, and focus all our resources on improving our strong points…?
That is what great persons do…they just ignore their frailties and concentrate all their efforts on enhancing and bettering their strong points, their forte, and achieve great heights…so that’s the way to excellence – nourish your qualities and ignore your weaknesses and be a winner…it works…you can take my word for it…
All the Best